September 23, 2014
Written by USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program
At 243 million, adolescents represent 25% of India’s total population. That’s more than the total population of Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world. Approximately 48% of these adolescents are teenage girls and young women who together account for 45% of India’s maternal deaths.
Think about that.
Nearly half of India’s maternal deaths occur between the ages of 15 – 24. The government of India recognizes the significant challenges facing adolescents in the developing world, and is addressing them in their Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) strategy. Ms. Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Rural Health Mission in India, shared in an interview with Jhpiego some of the unique challenges facing adolescents in her country:
“In India, a very peculiar challenge is that 70 percent of our adolescents are in rural areas, scattered in more than 600,000 villages in remote areas across the country. Clearly, a program offering facility-based services is not enough…As we all know, adolescence is considered a healthy period; nonetheless, more than 33 percent of the disease burden and almost 60 percent of premature deaths among adults can be associated with behaviors or conditions that began or occurred during adolescence. Thus, we need a huge and very comprehensive bouquet of services so that their attitudes change, they become more aware of issues, and they are better equipped to deal with the physiological, psychological and emotional changes that confront them as they enter adulthood.”
Take a look at some of the incredible work the government of India is doing in RMNCH+A in this fantastic animated video, featuring Rani, a young Indian girl.